Sangakkara wants more Tests for Sri Lanka
Kumar Sangakkara hoped better communication between administrators and players would in future help avoid the dearth of Test cricket that Sri Lanka face in 2013. When the Sydney Test ends early in the new year Sri Lanka will have played their last Test against top-flight opposition until December. Two-thousand-and-thirteen had shaped to be a busy year for Sri Lanka in the longest format, but the removal of five Tests now means a glut of ODI cricket will now overwhelm their schedule.
A two-Test series in the West Indies was the first to be scrapped, as both boards scrambled to make their players available for the duration of the IPL - a significant boon for that tournament, given Sri Lanka and West Indies were finalists in this year's World Twenty20. In place of the cancelled Tests, the teams will play a budget-friendly ODI tri-series involving India, which can only take place after the Champions' Trophy, which was the time Sri Lanka had originally been slated to host South Africa at home.
That three-Test series was then postponed until 2015, with the Sri Lanka Premier League, which is scheduled for early August, ensuring that South Africa's visit could not be moved to that month. The culling of Tests from Sri Lanka's schedule had already become a theme of the present administration, who also did away with one home Test against then world No.1 England in March this year, as well as replacing two Tests against India in July and August with a five-match ODI series.
The news of the Test removals were met with personal disappointment among the seniors in the Sri Lanka team, but in November captain Mahela Jayawardene defended the board's decisions, suggesting the preference of limited-overs cricket over Tests would allow the board to continue to function despite its financial distress. If both of the two Tests scheduled in Zimbabwe materialise, Sri Lanka will play no more than six Tests in the year, with four of those having been against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
"I think each country should play a minimum of 10 to 12 Test matches a year," Sangakkara said. "Hopefully 12 Test matches a year. We need to make sure that we find time to do that. I think players and administrators and everyone should really be together and talk on these things and understand that Test cricket is important. That's the only way cricketers are going to improve."
Sri Lanka last played South Africa at home in 2006, when they defeated the visitors 2-0 in a two Test series. At 35, Sangakkara may not be playing Test cricket in 2015, while 35-year-old Mahela Jayawardene and 36-year-olds Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera are also likely to consider retirement before that series.
"South Africa coming to Sri Lanka would have been a fantastic opportunity for us to try and beat the number one side in our own conditions. We have done that before. So it's disappointing. Hopefully, there will be more Test matches played and more thought put into scheduling and having a discussion as to how we fit in ten to 12 Test Matches a year."
Sangakkara also said the detriments of the paucity of Tests would spread beyond the Test specialists in the team, like Samaraweera, Prasanna Jayawardene, Chanaka Welegedara and Suraj Randiv.
"It's not just disappointing for them, even for us. Whatever the form you play, you want to play more Test cricket. So hopefully after next year we can be more proactive in our scheduling and we can talk on which countries are willing to come and play and how are we going to schedule Test cricket so that it is kept as the ultimate form of the game."
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent